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The vast majority of the knowledge humans have assembled over the centuries, has been lost. The world's geniuses either kept their revelations to themselves and then died, or else they put it down on paper which has long since rotted or burned or been used to line some parakeet's cage.

Obviously we'll never know what great books have been lost to time, but we have clues on some of them, and what those clues tell us is mind-boggling, and a little bit depressing. If you could make a library out of just books that didn't survive, you'd have a collection of some of the best freaking books ever written.

7
The Gospel of Eve, by Unknown

What is it:

It is apparently a totally sexually perverse lost book of the Bible. It's not hard to see why it didn't survive--church officials back in the day said the book was inspiring all kinds of depravity, from "free love" to "coitus interruptus and eating semen as a religious act."

(Wait, what? HOLY SHIT!)

Why it's Awesome:

Ah ha! The truth comes out! A book like this could deliver a potentially fatal blow to all that 2,000 years' worth of celibacy Christians had to set their watch to. For all we know, The Gospel of Eve could have been that Good News mankind had been waiting for or, failing that, it could've been totally fucking hot.

Why You'll Never Read It:

In the 4th Century church officials like Epiphanius lashed out at the book, apparently having nothing better to do than stop everyone from having sex and eating a little bit of semen. And he got away with it.


Heh heh heh.

Whatever copies that asshole Epiphanius didn't torch, the Pope probably has stashed under his mattress. And Pope, if you're reading this (who are we kidding "if"), we will pay good, hard American dollars for copies of that book.

But is the Gospel of Eve really "the Word" of the Lord? Alas, we won't know until the second coming, at which point it will definitely be #1 on Cracked's list of "7 Vital Questions To Ask Jesus."

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6
On Sphere-Making, by Archimedes

What is it:

Supposedly a how-to on the many steampunk wonders of Ancient Greece, such as orreries, astronomical clocks and whatever devices they invented to assist them with their buggery. It was authored by one of the greatest mechanical minds in history: the legendary Archimedes, who knew a thing or two about spheres right down to his dying words...


The next panel has the soldier going "Fuck your circles," and then he just goes nuts on Archimedes.

Why it's Awesome:

Remember that fancy Antikythera mechanism Cracked mused about way back? The ancient, intricate machine found near Greece that dates back to about 100 BC but that contains gears and structures that were not found in devices again for 1000 years?

Well, this book may hold the blueprints for building one yourself (as well as the time machine it was attached to).


[Artist's depiction.]

But even if such grand designs were not included, the simple fact that Archimedes was the Leonardo da Vinci of antiquity makes any of his undiscovered work invaluable. Even modern standards pale in comparison to how the Greeks mastered mechanics, and whatever secrets Archimedes had died when the Romans killed him.

Why You'll Never Read It:

Whatever copies exist are either buried in the middle of nowhere, or were destroyed when Rome torched the Library of Alexandria to prevent Greece from using time-travel against the Roman Empire again. Does this sound familiar yet? Jesus, Past, you really need to stop destroying all of our invaluable books.


"Don't fuck with the space-time continuum." - S.P.Q.R.

Unfortunately, it gets worse...

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5
The "Rare Books" Section at the House of Wisdom

What is it:

The rarest of the rare books from the East and West hemispheres housed in the Grand Library of Baghdad, the Library of Congress of its time. It was the single largest library in the world, and contained some of the oldest books ever written from three continents. It's also where the Persians likely kept the greatest hits from their history, including discoveries in science, medicine, astronomy and technology that made them the biggest swinging dick on the planet for several centuries.


A title now held by this man (minus the swinging).

Why it's Awesome:

The card catalog alone would be considered priceless. The library was like a rough draft of a university, it was where everyone went to learn. Not only could this create a checklist for countless works we know nothing about, but possibly subjects we could never know about, such as extinct animals or plant-life (the Romans supposedly had a plant that was such a good form of birth control they farmed it to extinction... imagine cloning that).

And since Baghdad was once the capital of the world for science and mathematics, books like Space Travel by Mohamed, How I Cured AIDS by Hippocrates or E.T. Episode I - They Came In Peace by Ezekiel would have likely been in their possession. Probably.

Why You'll Never Read It:

Goddamn Mongolians. The Mongols, fueled by their hatred for the cosmopolitan Chinese, tossed every book in the library into the Tigris when they captured the city. For those who survived the initial destruction, the river ran black with ink for six months. And thus was the present-day Middle East born.

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4
The Rest of the Epic Cycle, by Various

What is it:

The rest of the epic saga of Troy which Iliad and Odyssey are sandwiched between. It turns out the whole story of Troy's fall and Odysseus' journey home covered a total eight books, and the Greek poet Homer only authored two of them. The remaining six fleshed out all the gaping holes in its plot, such as the death of Achilles, the extent of Paris' douchebaggery, the Trojan Horse and the spellbinding conclusion to the vast saga. *SPOILERS* Odysseus dies at the end! *END SPOILERS*

Why it's Awesome:

Ever heard of that Coen Brothers movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? What about James Joyce's Ulysses? Or Cold Mountain? Or 2001: A Space Odyssey? Or William Shakespeare or Bob Dylan? They were all influenced by The Iliad and The Odyssey, and we could easily go on. The impact these stories had on literature, movies and music is, for lack of a better word, epic. The Battle of Troy is probably the most famous non-religious story in history (unless science proves that Zeus is the real deal), and knowing that we've only heard part of the story is just the biggest cocktease ever.

Why You'll Never Read It:

All we have about the saga are bits and pieces of information, and we're lucky to have that. The only reason we know the books exist at all is that other books from the time reference them (including some Cliffs Notes-style summaries) but that's it. If some guy has copies in his basement, he isn't talking about it.

Maybe it's for the best. Iliad and Odyssey are pretty badass; we could have been stuck with the Hellenistic equivalent of Star Wars: Episode I.

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3
Hermocrates, by Plato

What is it:

The rumored third book to Plato's little unified field theory trilogy. The first two were Timaeus and Critias and are basically transcriptions of one of the greatest, most influential thinkers to ever live discussing how the universe, uh, happened.

If Hemocrates was anything like the first two books in the series, it would have dealt with some brilliant, advanced concepts (like molecules and the Golden Ratio), and would have influenced thinkers and scientists for years to come. Slightly more important and infinitely more badass, Timaeus-Critias also serve as the seminal source for the theory of Atlantis.


Luckily there are other sources.

Since the second book ends rather abruptly (mid-sentence), it's only logical that the third dialogue would have covered the fate of Atlantis, along with the influence it would have had on thought that mattered in non-fictional universes.

Why it's Awesome:

If Disney, Mother Goose and Indiana Jones were all willing to find Atlantis, then Hermocrates has got to be worth at least a bathroom-reading. Besides, Plato's brief descriptions of Atlantis sound like everything James Cameron promised us about Avatar: a huge empire, a utopian society and a spectacular war that results in the empire's collapse (minus the plot stolen from the Dances With Wolves DVD on loan from Billy Zane).

Why You'll Never Read It:

Nobody has any clue where it is. Some have even speculated that Plato never got around to finishing it. But since most scholars dismiss Atlantis as something Plato probably pulled out of his ass to make a point, it may not be as big a loss as the $17 you burned watching Dances With Wolves in 3-D.

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2
Ab urbe condita libri, by Livy

What is it:

It detailed the entire history of Rome from its Trojan forefathers to the reign of Caesar Augustus, 800 years later--which means it includes a shitload of information on the subject not written down anywhere else. This bastard weighed in at 142 freaking volumes and anyone who ever got their hands on any part of it agreed that it was absolutely astounding.

After the West fell to ruin, Livy's beast became the single most sought-after book from antiquity, all without a single splash of gratuitous violence or naked women.


Actually, scratch that. There was both. They were Romans.

Why it's awesome:

Imagine finding an ancient copy of "Egyptian architecture" to settle once and for all how they built pyramids. Not the "Time Life Books"-type? That's cool, because you would have also been able to look up all the Gladiator records. All the mysteries of Ancient Rome would be at least kind of answered. Granted you'd probably never be able to read the whole book on your own; just owning one copy of this megalodon would pit every university on Earth in a bidding war to buy it from you.

But just the parts of Livy's histories that survived helped Italy invent a little something called "the Renaissance," and the books themselves were worshiped like goddamn monoliths.

Why You'll Never Read It:

It took Europe 1,000 years to realize that old books might be important after Rome fell, so when the Italians started collecting every scrap of paper left in Rome's locker, all they found were 35 books from the series (107 short). As if to rub it in from beyond the grave, everything the Italians found was fucking brilliant, and the basis for pretty much everything we know about Ancient Rome. So unless the Romans had the whole book saved on an enormous underground thumb drive, the best you can do is watch Gladiator.

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1
The Book of the Wars of the Lord, by God(?)

What is it:

A lost work that allegedly chronicles the wars fought by Moses, Joshua, and the Israelites as they pounded their way through the Holy Land. Yes, the Jews were still the underdogs, but bear in mind they had a little super-weapon called the Ark of the Covenant to schlep around with them.


Pictured: "Power of God."

Why it's Awesome:

The importance of a book allegedly written by God (either directly or indirectly), cannot be overstated. If this book had survived, it would be in the same category as The Bible. You know. The greatest-selling and most influential book in the history of time. Hell, there are religious sects that are formed based on single sentences in the Bible and full religions dedicated to finding secret codes within the text. Any addition or change to The Bible, even if they're slight, would have had a huge impact on the face of history.

Beyond all that, the story sounds badass. You've got a long quest, the most badass Jews in history and a Death Star-esque secret weapon. For those keeping score at home, that's a God-authored version of Lord of the Rings plus Inglorius Basterds plus Star Wars plus HOLY SHIT CAN YOU EVEN COMPREHEND HOW AWESOME THAT IS?!

Why You'll Never Read It:

Unless it turns up somewhere on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the only other place it could be found is in God's head. We suppose we'll just have to turn to seedy fan fiction if we ever hope to see The Fellowship of the Inglorious Jedi.

Do you have something funny to say about a random topic? You could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow. Go here and find out how to create a Topic Page.

And find out about some mysteries that these books could have explained, in 6 Insane Discoveries That Science Can't Explain. Or check out some books you should totally (not) buy your child, in 10 Great Books For (Traumatizing) Children.

And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 1.8.2010) to see DOB's re-imagining of the Gospel of Eve.

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